Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue (FDHRD)
"Complaints Book- DIWAN EL MAZALEM".
Analysis of the contents of the newspapers columns on complaints received by citizens.
During the period from 1st January till 30th April 2005
The first part
General remarks monitored by the report
First: Number of complaints sent to newspapers covered by this report during the period 1 st January – 30 th April 2005 reached 2722. These newspapers covered by this report are Al Akhbar – Al Ahram – Al Wafd – El Ahali – Al Osbo'o – Sawt El Omah – Al Arabi.
This report observed that the number of citizens' viewpoints on some of the current issues and incidents sent to the above-mentioned newspapers was 1145. The mailbox of Al Ahram newspaper published 874 viewpoints while the column named " To the editor" in Al Akhbar newspaper published 154. In addition, the column named "30 Yaqoub street" in Al Arabi newspaper published 65 viewpoints while the column named" For Readers Only " in Sawt El Omah newspaper published 68. The column named " El Masri El Faseeh" in Al Ahali newspaper published 8 viewpoints and the column named "Maraseel" in El Esbo'o newspaper published 3. On the other hand, the column named "The troubles of people" in El Wafd newspaper did not publish any opinions although it has a column for opinions named "Very urgent and thanks- A'agel Ma'a E; Shoukr " .
Second: Regarding complaints, El Akhbar newspaper came at the top as its column named "To the editor" published 856 complaints while the column named " The troubles of people" in El Wafd newspaper published 697 complaints. Then came the mailbox of Al Ahram which published 565 complaints.
Third: The weekly newspapers that published complaints, the column named "Maraseel" in El Esbo'o newspaper published 231 complaints while the column named " El Masri El Faseeh" in Al Ahali newspaper published 228 complaints. Then came the mail of "30 Yaqoub street " in Al Osbo'o newspaper which published 104 complaints while the column named" For Readers Only" in Sawt El Omah newspaper published 36 complaints.
Fourth : Percentage of complaints on the right to the political participation was 0% of the total complaints.
Percentage of complaints on the rights to access to food, health care housing and economic safety was 46%
Percentage of complaints on the right to education was 19% and on the right to work was 9%.
Percentage of complaints on the right of children to access of health social care and be protected against violence and exploitation was 7.5%
Percentage of complaints, on the rights of laborers to negotiate on the appropriate salary that they deserve and on the suitable conditions of work and the proper safe atmosphere, was 3.5%.
Percentage of complaints on the right to own lands was 4.5%.
Percentage of complaints on the right of equality which includes the right of woman to enjoy the same rights that others enjoy as well as to be protected from any kind of discrimination was 5% of the total complaints.
Percentage of complaints on the right to protect the environment was 3%.
Percentage of complaints, on the right of individuals in receiving administrative measures that shall protect their interests and protect them from exploitation, was 5%.
Eventually, there were other cases which are not approached by this report such as complaints related to the right to move and travel, the rights of people of special needs, the right to the safety of body and right to life. The percentage of these case was 7% of the total number.
Fifth: FDHRD did not monitor any difference between newspapers when publishing complaints of citizens. However, the mail of Al Ahram did not publish any complaints related to the criticism of the performance of the police body which indicates that this newspaper did not want to publish any complaints criticizing the officers of ministry of interiors when they breach laws and regulations during their duty.
In addition, Al Ahram newspaper published during this period (15) complaints to the minister of interiors on issues related to traffic, civil registration, passports and nationality.
Sixth: Regarding the size of columns, they ranged from 20% to 97% of the total page as follows:
The size of this column in El Wafd newspaper which is named " The troubles of people" was 50% of the total size of the page.
The column "To the editor" which is the complaints page in Al Akhbar newspaper was 45% of the total size of the page. In this regard, it was noted that Al Asbo'o newspaper has a column named " For Readers Only ' Camera" which is an independent column made to draw the attention of readers and the responsible persons to a specific case supported by photos.
Furthermore, the size of the complaints column in Al Ahali newspaper which is named " El Masri El Faseeh" was 97% of the total size of the page.
The column "Maraseel" which is the complaints page in Al Osbo'o newspaper was 90% of the total size of the page.
Besides, the size of the complaints column in Al Omah newspaper which is named "For Readers Only " was 95% of the total size of the page.
The column "30 Yaqoub street" which is the complaints page in Al Arabi newspaper was 85% of the total size of the page.
Seventh : The ministry of health came at the top of ministries that were addresses by citizens in their complains as there were 206 complaints sent to this ministry while the governorate of Cairo came at the top of governorates from which a lot of complaints as there were 135 complaints sent from this governorate.
Eighth: The ministry of interiors came at the top of ministries that replied to the complaints as they replied to 55 complaints out of 185 complaints. In addition, the governorate of Cairo was also interested in replying to complaints as they replied to 43 complaints out of 104 complaints.
Ninth: According to FDHRD's analysis of complaints published in the newspapers, the complaints on the right to health came at the top, as they were 206 complaints and then came complaints on the implementation on rulings, traffic and the work of police bodies, as they were 185 complaints. Number of complaints on insurances, pensions and social guarantees was 139 while complaints on the right to education reached 134 and then the number of complaints on rights relates to land reached 69.
Finally, it is observed that ordinary citizens seem to be not interested in political participation issues as this report did not monitor any complaints on this right. Therefore, it is clear the civil society activists have their own mechanisms to convey complaints related to the violations of rights while simple citizens use newspapers as a safe and quick way to solve their problems.
Tens: FDHRD observed that the targeted newspapers received more complaints rather than any other association which indicates the prominent role of newspapers in
serving citizens in the issues related to the fields of human rights and development as they received 2384 complaints during three months.
Regarding the number of complaints sent to other associations and organizations, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights received 1074 during a whole year in 2003 according to the statistics of its last annual report. The National Council for Women Rights for example received 4850 during the period from February till December 2004 according to their reports. Therefore, it is clear that newspapers play an important role in defending issues related to development and human rights.
Eleventh: Number of citizens who sent their complaints and viewpoints to the Egyptian newspapers reached 3000 citizens during 4 months.
Twelfth: The ministries, governorates and executive bodies sent 367 replies to complaints to newspapers after they intervened to solve the problems mentioned in the complaints while they sent 214 replies to the National Council for Human Rights and 21 replies to the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.
Thirteenth: This report observed that the number of viewpoints sent to newspapers was 1145 and they were as follows:
(65%) related to political and civil rights
(4%) related to foreign, Arab and international policies
(22%) related to economic and social rights
(5%) related to environmental issues
(2%) related to discussions on sports
(2%) related to various issues related to cultural and technical issues.
Fourteenth: This report concluded from these complaints that local bodies are weak and there is lack of communication channels between local citizens and the executive Peoples' Councils. Thus, when citizens want to convey their complaints, they address the competent Minster or governorator directly when their complaints can be simply solved in the case of the intervene of the local Peoples' Councils members or the public servants.
Fifteenth: It was obvious that the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs or its other bodies did not reply to any of the complaints which were published in the newspapers mentioned above.
Sixteenth: Besides, FDHRD noted that both Sawt El Omah and Al Ahali newspapers have allocated a permanent page for complaints in their second page while El Akhbar and El Wafd newspapers kept on changing the page.
Seventeenth: This report observed that the number of complaints related to the right to equality and the elimination of discrimination against women was very few in comparison with the number of other kinds of complaints. This phenomenon has taken place because of the spread of NGOs that work in the field of women headed by the " National Council for Women Rights" which received 1164 complaints during 2002 and 2003.